a trophy and the words, How it works

Social Health Awards 2023 | How It Works

The Social Health Awards are kicking off to celebrate patient leaders from around the globe.

The Social Health Awards empower and celebrate those leading the online health community – because the work of patient leaders is something to celebrate!

Health Union’s extensive research into social health has found 95% of individuals use social resources for support and guidance. Even more impressive? Thanks to patient leaders, 86% of patients better understand their condition, and most importantly, 62% of patients feel less alone.

Year after year, this program has proven to be one of the best ways to honor, recognize, and celebrate the work of patient leaders. As we’ve grown our community and implemented member feedback, we’re eager to present the next evolution of the awards program.

Learn more about how the Social Health Network Awards work

The Social Health Awards are split into four different phases:

  1. Nominations | May 1 -22
  2. Endorsements | May 15-22
  3. Judging | May 29-June 16
  4. Celebration | July & September at Digital Pharma East

the social health awards process infographic


May 1 -22

Think of nominations as a way to recognize your favorite patient leaders for their work. With 10 award categories, it’s easy to show your appreciation for all the patient advocates in your life. To start nominating, click here.

🏆 Tip for Nominees: Share your patient leader profile and ask your community to recognize you for the Social Health Awards. Don’t be afraid to post to social, reach out to foundations, and include them in any email correspondence. Your work deserves to be recognized! Once you’re nominated, you’ll receive a Nominee Media Kit for easy social sharing.

The Social Health Awards is subject to our Terms of Use and Community Rules. For information on how we manage Personal Information and privacy preferences, visit our Privacy Policy.

Who should be nominated? Who can win a Social Health Award?

Anyone aged 18 years or older who is an active health Leader who is making an impact on others in the community is eligible. They should provide the community with valuable information and support to make a difference for other patients and caregivers.

Think about the advocates and influencers you see moderating Facebook communities and website forums, blogging about their health journey, collaborating with healthcare companies, publishing articles on health sites, and presenting nationally. Patient Leaders have started non-profits, published podcast episodes, and authored books – there is no shortage of Patient Leaders’ contributions to the world, so let’s recognize as many of them as we can for their talents, contributions, and commitment.

How did you come up with the categories? Can I only use those to nominate someone?

The Social Health Awards are based on the foundational values of the patient community, such as empathy, leadership, and creativity. In addition, they were solidified from feedback from patient leaders active in the community. After years of feedback on the award categories, we’ve streamlined the award categories and ensured all avenues of advocacy are recognized for the Social Health Awards. Be sure to check out the categories here. We’ll only select winners for the categories in our nomination form, but we’re always open to suggestions.

​​How do I nominate someone?

Go to our Social Health Awards nominations page to get started. Tell us who you want to recognize, where you follow them online, and the Social Health Award you think they should win. Once you’re finished nominating your favorite patient leader, feel free to share that nomination with your community or tweet with the hashtag #SocialHealthAwards. And be sure to nominate early and often; we want to recognize as many patient leaders as possible.

Can I nominate myself?

Absolutely. We hope you’ll reach out to your community and ask them to nominate their favorite online health leaders –including you! You’re more than welcome to nominate yourself as part of the process. Be sure to pay it forward and take a moment and recognize any of the great leaders that help you on a daily basis as well.

How will I know if I am nominated?

Each nominee will be notified via email and social media (as applicable) and will be given a chance to complete/update their patient leader profile with additional information about themselves and their advocacy. Please note, notifications can take 24-72 hours from the time of the nomination submission.

Can I or someone else be nominated for multiple categories?

Yes! We encourage you to nominate your favorite patient leaders for the most appropriate awards category. If you think they fit multiple categories, nominate them for all of them! Keep in mind that if they’re already nominated for a category, the best way to support them is to endorse them in that category. But nominating them again is perfectly acceptable if you’d like to show your support.

Why was I nominated?

Congratulations! Being nominated for the Social Health Awards means you’ve impacted someone’s health journey. This program is meant to celebrate those sharing their health experience to support and inspire others. Nominators have the option to include a nomination reason, which will be displayed on your public patient leader profile once you accept the nomination.

Who nominated me?

If nominators include an optional nomination reason, their reasoning, and name will appear on your patient leader profile once you accept your nomination. Nominators also have the option to submit anonymously, so if they do, their names will not be shared.

Where can I find the nominees?

The Social Health Awards Nominee Directory is a quick and easy way to discover, follow, and connect with top patient leaders.


May 15-22

This period provides a community-choice aspect of the program. Endorsements are a way to give nominees a visual show of support for a specific nomination; think of it as “liking” a post or photo on social media. For instance, if a nominee is nominated for Community Cultivator, and you believe they deserve this recognition, your endorsement is the perfect way to show your support.

The top three most-endorsed nominees in each of the 10 categories will automatically become finalists. However, it’s not the only way to become a finalist. Three additional finalists will be selected through numerous rounds of judging where endorsement count and community size is not considered.

Tip for Nominees: Grab Your Endorsement Badge

Once endorsements open on May 15th, navigate to your patient leader profile on the “Awards” tab. Here you can download images and badges to put on your sites to gain endorsements. We invite you to keep your badge up once endorsements are closed to display your accomplishment proudly.

I don’t have many followers. Can I still win?

Yes! It’s important to remember endorsement count isn’t the only way to win! Three finalists are determined through endorsement count, but an additional three finalists are selected through multiple rounds of judging, where endorsement count or follower size is not included.

Can I still become a finalist if I do not get a high number of endorsements?

Yes. While the three nominees with the highest endorsement numbers in each category will automatically become finalists, our judging panelists will determine the additional three finalists through numerous additional factors aside from endorsements.

What happens when I endorse a nominee? Is it the same as voting?

Endorsements were created to allow network members to participate in the Social Health Awards. Think of it as a way to give your favorite Patient Leaders a shout-out or virtual hug.

So, if you are nominated for an award, make sure you ask your friends, family, and community network to take a moment to endorse your efforts.

How do I endorse someone?

The best way to connect with other nominees is to visit our nominee directory. You’ll find any social media accounts they’ve included on their profile and more information on their story. Shoot them a message to collaborate! Please note, endorsements are only open May 15-22.

Can I endorse more than one person?

While you can only endorse a nominee once per award category they are nominated for, you can endorse as many people as you like. If you want to spread love and endorse others, feel free to do so.

How can I encourage others to endorse me?

First off, congratulations on your achievement! Sharing the news of your nomination and asking your community to endorse you is the best way to encourage others to support you. All nominees will receive a media kit to help share the news. In addition, making sure your patient leader profile is as complete as possible will encourage others to learn more about you. Plus, you’ll be better positioned to connect with the community and other inspiring patients. It’s a win-win!


May 29-June 16

Health Union hosts multiple rounds of judging. After all, we receive thousands of nominations! Judges will use the information provided in the nominee’s patient leader profile to review and score.

Determining Finalists

There are six finalists in each award category. To ensure the program’s integrity, half of the finalists will be determined through endorsement count, and half will be selected through the Health Union judging process. Finalists are selected in two ways:

  1. The top three endorsed nominees within a Social Health Awards category automatically move on as finalists.
  2. The subsequent three finalists in each category are selected by fellow patient leader judges. Finalists will be selected based on their relevance to that particular award and the information provided in a nominee’s profile – NOT follower or endorsement count. The finalist judging panels comprise past award winners, foundations, and organizations.

Once the top six finalists in each Social Health Awards category have been selected, we’ll announce the finalists on the Health Union blog and then move into the final round of judging.

Selecting the Winners

Healthcare industry thought leaders and experts convene to review the six finalists in each category based on their use of social media, their fit for the award for which they’ve been nominated, and how effectively they engage their online community. Judges score individually, and then Health Union tallies these scores to identify the winners. The winners will be announced at the virtual Connexion event in July.

Note: A nominee’s community size (number of fans, followers, readers, members, etc.) will not be considered. The nominee is judged based on their content and fit for the award category.

Tip for nominees: Update your patient leader profile.
Having a completed Social Health Network profile allows judges to gain a comprehensive understanding of your mission.

I want to be a judge for the Social Health Awards. How can I do that?

If you’re interested in participating, visit the Social Health Network platform to volunteer your patient leader insights as a judge to help us determine the finalists.

Can judges be nominees or Social Health Award winners?

We allow those nominated to participate in the network judging process. However, if a judge is nominated for a certain award, they are not allowed to judge that category.

How do you pick your judges?

We have many patient leaders, patients, caregivers, industry leaders, previous winners, finalists, and Social Health Network members who connect with us throughout the year. Many of them express interest in being involved with the Social Health Awards. The Health Union team compiles a list of those enthusiasts throughout the year and connects with each before our Social Health Awards season. We then ensure they fit and chat about the details, time commitment, and what is expected of the judges. Once they confirm they would like to participate officially, they are in.

How do you score the nominees? What criteria do judges use when selecting semi-finalists, finalists, and winners?

Judges score nominees on the following criteria:

  • Fit for the Award | How well does this person fit the category they are nominated for? For example: if they are nominated for Rookie of the Year, have they only recently started their advocacy journey?
  • Use of Social Media | How well does this Patient Leader use social media for their activism? Are they active, engaged, and responsive on their networks? Are they a power user of social media and active on multiple profiles?
  • Focus on sharing of information and overall engagement | How well does this patient leader balance sharing of their own content with the sharing of others’ content and information?


July and September

All Social Health Awards finalists will win access to the virtual Health Union event Connexion. This annual patient leader conference brings together over 100 patient leaders from across the globe and from over 30 online communities to attend a week long event to advance their advocacy efforts. Past sessions have included social media advocacy, mindfulness meditation, gentle chair yoga, connecting with patient leaders, vulnerability and mental health with Tyler Campbell, and our keynote on resiliency in the midst of chronic burnout with Rebekah Taussig. Winners will be announced on the last day of Connexion for a special patient leader celebration!

Winners will be invited to the Fierce Pharma Marketing Awards, an exclusive in-person award ceremony in Philadelphia, PA, on September 13. Health Union and FiercePharma are partnering again this year to celebrate the Social Health Awards. This year’s winners are eligible for:

  • Attendance to the Social Health Awards presentation and networking reception
  • Transportation and accommodations for up to two nights in Philadelphia, PA for the Social Health Awards celebration and Digital Pharma East event this September
  • Access to the Digital Pharma East conference and networking events
  • Invitation to join as a compensated 2024 Health Union Patient Leadership Council (PLC) member
  • A personalized Social Health Awards plaque
  • A shipment of the latest Social Health Awards swag

Please note:
Awards are not transferable for cash or additional travel if participants are unable to attend.
Transportation and attendance for one individual at the Fierce Pharma Marketing Awards aside from the Best Team category, which includes accommodations for up to two team members. To be considered as a finalist and ultimately a winner, individuals must be 18 years of age or older. Nominees under the age of 18 can be recognized but will not be eligible to be a finalist. It goes without saying, health and safety is our number one priority, especially when many of our participants. We will continue to invite all winners to attend an in-person celebration in Philadelphia at the FiercePharma event this September if they feel comfortable. Of course, winners are not required to travel and are encouraged to do what’s best for them and their health.


Stay tuned for further details regarding this year’s celebration, opportunities, and information for winners. We encourage you to view all of the current Social Health Awards nominees in the nominee directory.

Click here to view the nominees.

Cheers to another season of celebrating patient leaders! More questions? Please feel free to refer to the Social Health Awards FAQ page.

The Social Health Awards is subject to the Terms and Conditions. For information on how we manage Personal Information and privacy preferences, visit our Privacy Policy.

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